Skip to main content

Bharat Gandhi: Victim of fierce, competitive Naga politics or insurgent extortion?

By Sandeep Pandey*
Bharat Gandhi alias Vishwatma is author of number of books including 'Rediscovering Democracy.' His booklet 'Bring Votership, Remove Poverty' has been published seven times. He is the leader of Voters Party International (VPI) and originally belongs to Janupur, Uttar Pradesh.
He is known for advocating a monthly votership or pension of around Rs 6,000 per month (according to 2016 rates) for every voter for his/her role in running the democratic system just like any other person in legislature, executive or judiciary is compensated for their role. 
He articulates that voter is the foundation on which pillars of democracy stand. Votership amount may be thought of as universal basic income which is being advocated by some economists and political parties like the Congress as well even though for poorest 20% of population.
Bharat Gandhi's idea of votership which may appear simplistic or infeasible on the face of it was actually endorsed by 137 members for debate in the Parliament in 2008 under rule 193 but for some strange reason it was never taken up for discussion. Then it was sent for examination of its feasibility to an 11 member committee headed by Deepak Goyal. 
In 2011 this committee saw merit in the idea and approved it as a solution to a number of problems faced by the country. The committee had consulted Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap and famous economist and former Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru Professor Bharat Jhunjhunwala. 
Bharat Gandhi has also floated a concept of Refundable Donation Receipt where every donation made by a citizen to the political party is proposed to be refunded with interest after getting a finance bill approved by the Parliament.
He has been advocating establishment of a world government too and has proposed a Global Alliance on Participation and Peace because he thinks problems like poverty, unemployment, corruption, inequity, illiteracy, environmental degradation, cultural degeneration, terrorism, malnourishment afflict every country. If a country claims to be solving any of the abovementioned problems it is probably just transferring this problem to some other country or countries. Hence he believes in global solution to these problems and that explains the name of his party.
VPI is a genuine political party which has contested elections in the past and got 50,355 votes in 7 constituencies of Assam, 44,245 votes in 7 contituencies of Bihar, 7,285 votes in 5 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, 5,099 votes in one constituency of Jharkhand and 314 votes in one constituency of Delhi during the respective last assembly elections in these states. Over the past one year they have also started working in Nagaland. 
Bharat Gandhi's idea of votership  may appear simplistic but was endorsed by 137 members for debate in Parliament in 2008
Bharat Gandhi was arrested on March 13, 2020 from a cadre meeting in Dimapur of VPI along with Chukie Haralu, party's Nagaland coordinator, Prajit Basumatary, security chief of the party and three other security volunteers on charges of misleading people by accepting a donation of Rs 300 and offering a promise of Rs 6,000 per month to people.
The Refundable Donation Receipt resembles a promissory note which got him into trouble in Dimapur even though its design has been shared with Election Commission of India and Reserve Bank of India earlier. 
While others were released after some interrogation and making them sign on a piece of paper by police from Dimapur East police station, Bharat Gandhi was illegally held for 10 days by police before being sent to judicial custody after registering a case under sections 419, 420, 468, 471 and 34 of IPC against him.
Bharat Gandhi got bail on May 11, 2020 from High Court bench in Kohima as the police was not able to file a chargesheet which shows they have not been able to prove that VPI or Bharat Gandhi are cheating people or are commiting any kind of fraud. By putting him in jail Nagaland government has violated his Constitutional and democratic rights.
His party colleagues, Shivakant Gorakhpuri and Naveen Kumar, who went to secure his release were kidnapped from a Dimapur hotel on 19 May and taken to a camp of an insurgent group where a demand to pay Rs. 1 crore was made to them. When they expressed their inability to pay they were finally released on 27 May but on the condition that they will pay Rs. 32.5 lakh within a week.
It is unclear whether Bharat Gandhi has become a victim of fiercely competitive politics of Nagaland where local forces do not want an outsider to build some support for himself or he is merely a target for extortion by one of the insurgent groups. 
Northeast is known for the existence of a number of insurgent or extremist groups who have digressed from their political objectives and are now engaged in extortion for their survival. In some of the states every government employee has to make regular payments, often to more than one groups.
This may also be viewed as protection money, especially for business interests. The insurgent group which is targetting VPI was probably misled about its resources. VPI is not in a position to pay any kind of ranson as it is a party not financed by some capitalists but runs on donations from ordinary people.
The only way Bharat Gandhi can remain secure now is if his safe passage to Delhi or Lucknow is ensured under the security of some Central Security Forces, otherwise there are good chances that he may be kidnapped for ransom just like his colleagues.
---
*Magsaysay award winning social activist, vice-president of Socialist Party (India)

Comments

Vishwatma long live

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

PLFS data: Is rising employment good news? Deeper analysis suggests contrary results

By Ishwar Chandra Awasthi, Puneet Kumar Shrivastav*  Results of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2020-21 , released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India (GoI) on June 14, 2022, show improvement in work force participation rate (WPR) and labour force participation rate (LFPR) and declining unemployment rate. Four rounds of data have been released from 2017-18 to 2020-21 based on PLFS. The general trend in the last four rounds clearly shows consistent increase in WPR and LFPR and falling unemployment rates by usual status (PS+SS). Though increase in WPR and LFPR is reported highest in 2019-20 over 2018-19, yet rising trend in these two key indicators continues throughout, and similarly fall in unemployment is registered highest in 2019-20 over 2018-19. Clearly, the recent results give some solace and relief after unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic that has entailed enormous loss of human lives and livelihoods and crippled economic activit

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Drop all falsed charges': 150 citizens demand early release of AltNews co-founder

Counterview Desk  About 150 concerned citizens have demanded the release of Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checkng newsportal AltNews, arrested over a 2018 tweet which allegedly hurt religious sentiments, even as booking for criminal conspiracy and having received foreign funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). Denied bail last weekend and sent to 14-day judicial custody, the concerned citizens, in a statement, regretted that while the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Delhi police on a petition filed on behalf of Zubair challenging the legality and propriety of his police remand and the seizure of his electronic devices, the “frivolous case” continues. Excerpts: The illegal arrest of Mr. Mohammed Zubair happened on June 27, 2022, by the Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity over a tweet from 2018. The IPC Sections included 153(a) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race,

Chennai residents 'suffering': Faulty design, implementation of storm water project

By NS Venkataraman*  The Greater Chennai Corporation is now implementing storm water drainage project in 559 roads, covering a distance of 1033 kilometres, which cost around Rs 4,070 crore. For this massive project, which is targeted to be completed between April and September this year, huge loan has been availed from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others. Several technocrats have pointed out that the project has been designed with outdated technology and quality of the implementation is so poor that the residents have been put to great hardships. As part of the project, digging of the road has been done to around 5 to 6 feet deep and width of around 4 to 5 feet. The drains are being constructed using steel reinforced cement concrete with two walls on either side with provisions for manhole, chute etc. This has been done in front of several houses leaving little space between the gate of the house and that of the drainage structure. As the work has been going on for mor

Prime Minister's 'affordable' housing policy fails to help Gujarat slum dwellers: Study

By Rajiv Shah  A new study on the implementation of one of the major policy initiatives for the urban poor by the Narendra Modi government after it came to power, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), has said that in Gujarat, which happens to be the Prime Minister’s home state, has quoted state officials as “confirming” that no progress towards tenure regularization, a key requirement for providing housing to the state’s slum dwellers. Stating that this particularly true of smaller town, the study, carried out by the non-profit Homes in the City (HIC), which is based in Bhuj, district headquarter of Kutch that saw a devastating earthquake in 2001, says, the failure to provide affordable housing is there despite the fact that there has been “significant demand” in all the 83 out of 153 Gujarat municipalities studied by experts involved in the study. According to the study, out f a total of 1.41 lakh demands for housing under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) category, 94,232 (66.7%)

'Contractor-official nexus led to RTI activist's murder': Fact-finding team seeks probe

Courtyard inside of PWD office where Ranjeet Soni was killed Counterview Desk  A fact-finding team* visited Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh (MP) on June 19, 2022 to meet with the family of Ranjeet Soni, who was shot dead on June 2, 2022 inside the premises of the PWD office in Vidisha. The objective was to gather information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ranjeet Soni and his work on exposing corruption through the use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A report prepared by the team members says that Ranjeet had been extensively using the RTI Act to access information from the government, and upon receiving documents showing misuse of public funds or corruption, he was filing complaints to various authorities including the Lokyukta, Publi Works Department (PWD) and the Chief Minister’s Office. It notes, Ranjeet used to work as a contractor and often undertook government works in collaboration with other contractors, including those being investigated for his murder. A f

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria